Statistics indicate that the lifespan of an indoor cat is much longer than an outdoor cat. An indoor cat has an average life span of 12 - 20 years when compared to 1 - 5 years for a cat kept outdoors. The pros of keeping a cat indoors outnumber the cons of an outdoor cat. Most are directly related to the health and safety of the cat.
The first valid reason to make a cat an indoor pet is traffic. Busy highways, roads, suburban streets and country lanes all present a life-threatening danger for cats. One accident can be fatal or cause serious injuries.
Indoor cats are not exposed to the host of poisons that many outdoors cats encounter. Pesticides, home garden products, car and motor products, discarded trash, spoiled foods, poisonous plants and intentional poisonings are among the countless perils for cats that roam.
Danger of contracting an infectious disease rises for the outdoor cat. Many feline diseases including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) are transmitted from one infected cat to another. Cats who roam at will encounter other cats and contract either of these fatal diseases. A host of other infectious diseases thrive in the outdoor environment among cats that have not been vaccinated.
Parasites are another health issue for outdoor cats. Fleas are prevalent through the world and are carriers for disease, some of which can be transmitted to cat owners.
Outdoor cats face other dangers. Dogs and wild animals such as possums and snakes often prey on cats that wander into the wrong territory. Cruel and sadistic individuals sometimes kill defenseless cats for sport or pleasure.
Outdoors cats are more prone to becoming lost forever. Less than 5% of cats taken to animal shelters are reclaimed by owners. All outdoor cats should wear safety collars with identifying information. Though microchipping is the only permanent way to identify a cat, the general public will not take a stray cat to a vet or animal control to see if a microchip is in place. Also, the information retrieved from the microchip may be out of date making it impossible to find the pet’s owners.
Cats are susceptible to skin cancer. If you allow your cats to free roam this disease is a likelihood. Having them in the safety of the home enclosure is important; be aware of this and offer the cat protection from the sun.
The belief that indoor cats tend to be lazy and overweight is not true and can be prevented with scheduled play times. Plan to spend at least 20 minutes twice a day in one-on-one sessions with your cat, petting him and playing games. A great way to stimulate a cat’s hunting instinct is to provide your cat with a prey-like toy, such as a laser pointer or kitty fishing pole.
Many indoor cats enjoy nibbling on greens as a dietary supplement. You can provide this by planting grass seed, catnip or alfalfa in a pot. Doing so may also help keep them from chewing on your houseplants, some of which can be poisonous. If you are not sure about indoor plants poisonous to your pet, check out: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/ to be sure.
Occasionally, they'll appreciate having a whiff of the outdoors. Many cats love to stretch out in front of an open window and sun themselves or watch the world go by.